Missouri coach Frank Haith and the Tigers enter the SEC as a newcomer but have the personnel this year to challenge for a title. Coupled with the transfer of former UConn center Alex Oriakhi, Missouri owns a talented, up-tempo backcourt that was picked by the media to lead the Tigers to a third-place finish in the league this year.
Missouri coach Frank Haith:
On the early exit in the NCAA Tournament last year and motivation for this season:
We’re motivated to win always; I don’t think that has anything to do with our motivation. That was a difficult moment for us, it was disappointing, but I think our team and our staff are focused on having a team good enough to get to the tournament and advancing in the tournament.
On the Big 12’s and SEC’s difference in culture and style of play:
You know, one thing I’ve done is this summer, I started watching tape of the SEC. One thing that really stands out is the athleticism in this league. It’s a very athletic league. I also think they play a style, in terms of tempo defensively, that’s a little different than the Big 12‐ there’s more pressing, there’s more aggressive play, and extending your defense in this league than there was in the Big 12. That’s something we’ve got to get used to.
On impact transfers:
When we got the job, we didn’t have any freshman class. We only had one kid in the sophomore class, and that was Phil. The time when we got the job, we couldn’t sign quality enough high school kids I thought could come help us compete at the level we were playing. We were fortunate enough to get a couple of transfers to help us balance our classes out. I don’t like those large classes like we had with 7 seniors. We were able to balance our classes out and we started with Earnest Ross and Keion Bell at that time and brought them on board and both are doing very well. Keion played in this league before, excuse me, Earnest, at Auburn, very talented player, he’s Auburn’s leading scorer and leading rebounder. And then we signed Keion Bell who scored over 1300 points at Pepperdine, very athletic. At Mizzou Madness, he jumped over 7 players, or 6 players! He’s very gifted athletically. We were fortunate enough to get Jabari Brown, a five‐star kid, a transfer from Auburn. All three of those guys are going to have impact with our team, and Jabari will be eligible in December [to play]. But then, we got a Christmas present with Alex Oriakhi. We weren’t expecting that one, from UConn, very late in the year, after season. All of these guys will have impact with our team, for sure.
Courtesy of SEC Digital Network